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Why I hate the phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’

You know the phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’? Yeah? Well I hate it.

The phrase can be used in one of two situations. The first being when someone is trying to find out something about someone else that is not theirs to find out, so one can say curiosity killed the cat to shut them up and stop them from asking any more questions on something that is totally not their business. In this case, yes, go ahead and use the phrase because meddling in other people’s business is nothing to be proud of.

And if it would’ve stopped here I wouldn’t be writing up this post. But the fact is that that’s not the only type of occasion where that phrase is used. Unfortunately.

Why I hate the phrase 'curiosity killed the cat'

Another occasion in which this can be said is when genuinely someone is telling someone else that they are being too curious about a particular topic that they are interested in (that or they are too lazy or annoyed to answer any more questions, which in my eyes is basically equally as bad).

This occasion, seemingly harmless, has happened to me one too many times.

I could be curious about something and want to learn more about it so I start asking questions to a friend or anyone else close to me, only to be rudely stopped because, did you know? Curiosity killed the cat. Actually Allen, curiosity did not kill the cat, you know what it did kill? Genuine curiosity, something we, as a human species, have a lack of at times.

Because the only thing you’re doing by telling someone not to be curious, is that you’re making them less curious. Or at the very least, you’re not giving them the opportunity to be curious which leads to some people becoming scarred to further ask anymore questions to anyone. 

By telling someone to shut up and not ask anymore questions you are telling someone that being curious and wanting to learn is not something you would want to do.

Besides, since when has being curious become such a negative? Don’t we teach our children to be curious and ask questions because they are just starting to learn about everything? Don’t we want them to learn as much as possible? Isn’t that why they go to school? So why is it any different for people past primary school or middle school? Is it from then just meant to be: learn what you are taught but definitely don’t take an interest to learn anything else or ask any questions? Shouldn’t curiosity be praised instead of put down?

Why I hate the phrase 'curiosity killed the cat'

I know at my old Spanish high school I never felt encouraged to ask questions. This was partly because of the few twats in the class that only asked “stupid” questions – if they even exist – but mostly it was because the teachers didn’t feel like teaching, essentially.

But teachers at schools isn’t where the problem stops, it’s only where the problem starts, in most cases. If you are taught in school that curiosity is not something to be proud of, how is the rest of your life going to be any different? And if you have come out of school with a positive experience or you’ve somehow managed to still come out with a positive outlook then this will most likely last about 0.2 seconds when you start mingling in the outside world.

Hopefully not, and if you’ve still not experienced anything I’ve been talking about then I am really happy for you and hope no-one ever reiterates this awful phrase to you in the wrong setting.

Often people don’t have the time or patience to answer all of your questions. Of course this is a generalisation (as is everything here, as you’ve hopefully already picked up on) but a lot of people – at least in my experience – don’t tend to enjoy having thrown 10 questions at them on a topic they know something about. Of course the way these questions are asked plays a big part in how likely someone is to answer, but if this is done very politely, why are we then still like this?

And even if you don’t feel like explaining something, you might have had a bad day or whatever other reason you have. Why then use the phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’ to decline the person’s genuine interest? There’s nothing wrong with expressing the fact that you’ve had a bad day and don’t feel like answering those questions at the minute, there’s always the internet, another person or simply another time to redirect them to. But insinuating that asking those questions about that topic – which is essentially wanting to learn more about that topic – is a bad thing? Nah that’s taking it too far mate

Wanting to learn something new is never a bad thing.

Because no, curiosity most certainly did not kill the cat. We should all be curious, remain curious, keep being curious. Just be curious, ask questions and learn.

So can we please stop saying that phrase all together? Let’s teach our kids as well as our adults that it’s okay to be curious and to learn, and let’s not put them down in such a way that insinuates that that might be something to not be proud of.

It most definitely is.

What do you think about the phrase? Are you curious?

Why I hate the phrase 'curiosity killed the cat'
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